Posted by: genelnicholsblog | August 30, 2015

a second look

Every one of us has a person like this in our life — maybe at work, or in the family. They’re a pessimist and a worrywart; they are brooding, and they always see the glass half empty.  They have a melancholic personality – just like the disciple Thomas …“Doubting Thomas.”  But the name he was labeled with throughout history was quite unfair, as we will see. Mike wrote about this in our last blog posting, but please bear with me as we take a second look at this verse in John 11.

Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
John 11:16

To begin, the name Didymus means “the twin”.  So we know Thomas had a twin brother or sister, but they are never identified in Scripture.  Also, Thomas seems very committed to Jesus in this verse; he is ready to die with him.  Let me set the context here:  Jesus has just received word that Lazarus is sick, and he has been asked to hurry to his bedside.  Lazarus lived in Bethany, just on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  Opposition to Jesus had been building, so the disciples knew that going back to Bethany could mean an arrest for all of them.  But Thomas says, “Let’s Go!”  Pessimistic? Yes, but also courageous and loyal.  What he was really saying was, “I don’t want to live without Jesus.”  He must have been convincing, because everyone followed Jesus to Bethany.

Now, fast forward to the days following the crucifixion and the first time Jesus appears to the disciples.  Everyone is there … except Thomas!  How could he have missed this?!  Because, as a melancholic he was probably in bed sick, wallowing in his misery, seeing no one, feeling betrayed, forsaken and brokenhearted.  But the others sought him out and told him they had seen the risen Jesus.  To which Thomas utters the famous words that labeled him “Doubting” for all history:

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
John 20:25

Now, don’t be too hard on Thomas; the others did not believe Mary Magdalene, or the two men on the road to Emmaus.  They also only believed when they saw.  But then something absolutely amazing happened.  Jesus appeared before the disciples again and this time Thomas was there.  Jesus was so kind and gentle with Thomas.  After all, who understood his personality better than Jesus?  Look at this:

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”  Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:26-28

Thomas got it!  After traveling with Jesus for a year and a half, worrying, questioning and yes, doubting, Thomas got it!  “My Lord and My God!”  It was at this point that Thomas was transformed into one of the greatest evangelists of his time.  Many historical accounts point to Thomas ministering in India for the greater part of the rest of his life.  And in a fitting death, Thomas died after being run through with a spear – fitting for the disciple whose faith became real when he saw the spear mark in the side of his Savior.

What will it take for you to proclaim, “My Lord and My God!”?

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